Current location: Puerto Madero, Chiapas, MX
“Occupy Chiapas Marina” Day #6…..
I grew up being dragged along to a variety of peaceful protests with my mother, learning quickly that candle wax really burns and that Bob Dylan’s voice really annoyed me. So to honor her memory we have decided to occupy Marina Chiapas as a symbol of our solidarity to penny pinchers everywhere. When the Mexican policia show up to drag us away from our free stay marina, we will prevail!
But seriously we have been loving our stay here in Chiapas, enjoying some afternoon rain showers, a coffee plantation tour and the boys racing around the newly paved parking lot on their rusty scooters. Life is good! The only bummer has been a reoccurrence of our fuel tank leakage which seems determined to trickle just bit of diesel every day. A repair we will take care of in El Salvador, which apparently has quality welding facilities.
One of my favorite parts so far has been the coffee plantation tour where were able to enjoy a beautiful and different environment. We actually had to put on sweatshirts to keep warm, a nice change of pace for us tropical residents. Visiting this place was a great reminder of how much I love being in the mountains and look forward to enjoying them again soon.
The boys and I, with a few of our friends, were picked up at the marina in a van driven by Ulysses who turned out to be the coffee plantation manager. We drove an hour and a half inland to the “finca”, the literal translation in English is “country house” (Ben was unable to go since he needed to finish his captain’s license requirement…another story in itself, requiring urine samples and drug testing).
This particular coffee plantation, Finca Hamburgo, has been owned by a German family for over 125 years and their tag line appropriately states, “A place two blocks from heaven”...or something like that (which conjured up this disturbing thought in my head, “I’m a long way from my destination if I’m headed the other way!!”). We traveled into the rainforest to about 5,000 feet in altitude and were amazed at the lushness of our surroundings.
Although Mickey and J.P. weren’t inspired by the subject of coffee growing, they found off-roading in a 4x4 truck through the rainforest quite exciting. As we passed people on the dirt roads with machetes in hand, they found it even more intriguing. They also raved about the the amazing meals we were served at the plantation’s restaurant/hotel. Chicken Parmegian in the middle of the rainforest….does it get any better than that???
I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story, but let me just clarify that the beauty and tranquility of this place was astounding. I was quite content to get off the water for a while and enjoy a different region of Mexico, a country I have grown to love.
As we get farther south and out of the more touristy regions I have noticed we “gringos” are quite the unique sight. One of the first days here, we went to a shopping mall which included a Walmart filled with Guatemalan people who often cross the border to get necessary items. When Nicole (from Bella Star) informed us there was a food court, I thought the boys might lose their minds with exictement. Sure enough we followed the bright lights and discovered the gringo promised land of Subway, Dominos and something absent from our diet for quite a while, Chinese food!!
Apparently there is a large Chinese population here which dates back to the railroads being built. As Mickey danced a little jig of joy next to me, we ordered Orange Chicken (his favorite food), plates of chow mein, fried rice and egg rolls. Although I found it unique to be speaking Spanish to an Asian woman, I liked the multi-cultural feel to this place. Turns out, it’s the gringos that aren’t the norm here….as I spied a group of junior high students pointing to us from across the food court. They had approached our friend and wanted to know if they could take a picture of our children.
So there we were in the middle of a shopping mall experiencing the “melting pot” of Mexico amongst Guatemalen, Chinese and Mexican people and we were the unicorn in the room. A round of pictures were taken as the boys patiently tolerated this group of teenage women oogling over how cute they were. It was like my children had taken on movie star status and were being pursued by the paparazzi (Mickey later pointed out that it was like being a famous major league baseball player). When I pulled out my Iphone to take their picture, their eyes lit up with excitement. One particular girl kept petting J.P. like a puppy, until he told her he needed his space. Surprisingly this translated just fine.
After I had used all of my basic Spanish conversational terms we found ourselves just standing there, staring and smiling at each other. I took this as a cue to break up the party and told them we needed to go eat something. They nodded comprehension and moved along with many backward glances, obviously having a great story to tell when they returned home from school. They spent the next half hour nearby, giggling and reviewing their cell phone pics of the boys.
Another event of note is our new friend Enrique who is in charge of building and running this new marina. Ironically, he has 8 and 10 year old sons and as I write this Ben, Enrique and all of the kids are off exploring ancient Mayan ruins. Afterwards they plan to go to Enrique’s club and swim in the pool.
So there you have it…in the last six days our experiences have ranged from rainforests, 125 year old coffee plantations, shopping malls, junior high girl encounters, Mayan ruins and swimming pools. A schizophrenic existence indeed, but we already knew that the Doolittles were crazy!
P.S. Leaving Mexico for El Salvador tomorrow morning (Tuesday). A two night passage that will take us past Guatemala and to Bahia Del Sol. Looking forward to seeing Central America!!!
P.P.S. Having trouble loading the photos tonight. Will post them soon!